We recently welcomed Ger Buckley, Master Cooper at Midleton Distillery to Ballymaloe Cookery School for a talk & demo on the ancient craft of Cooperage to the 12-week cookery students during wine class. Ger spoke about the origin of the craft dating back to Roman times and brought along a selection of the ancient tools still used to this very day. A fascinating line-up of cooperage tools (see picture attached) and not the usual line up of cookery utensils normally seen on the cookery demo counter at the Cookery School.
Ger also brought along a barrel which he dismantled and asked for volunteer from the class to show them how to assemble it – so one of the 12-week students had a hands-on step by step ‘how to make a barrel from a Master Cooper. Our wine classes cover a very broad range indeed.
Ger Buckley explained that cooperage was always one of the most highly regarded trades and crafts. The tradition of apprentices having a little of the char from the inside of the barrel on the face of the apprentice for their first barrel was continued to the surprise of our volunteer cookery student!All taken in good spirits. And all in a days work, putting a barrel together – it’s not something everyone can put of their list of achievements…
Our thanks to Ger for a fascinating talk and demo which the students really enjoyed and appreciated.
Master Cooper Ger Buckley learned his trade directly from his father. His family have been making barrels for over 200 years and Ger himself is a 5th generation Master Cooper. Ger Buckley is keeping this ancient craft alive, and passing on the skills to the next generation, which you can see in the local distillery here, in Midleton Distillery here in East Cork